Station: [6] The german red cross in wartime

During the First World War, the work of the Red Cross focussed on caring for the wounded. Although the International Committee of the Red Cross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1917, the work in wartime needs to be viewed critically today.

Take a look at these two display panels. The war starts with cheering – and ends with suffering beyond measure. Even Red Cross workers – many of them patriotic Germans – didn’t see the extent of the misery the war was leading people into. It was an enthusiastic beginning – with a bitter end.

Or here! A call for people to donate real human hair. The German Women’s Hair Collection was a campaign organised by the Red Cross for the benefit of the German war industry. Because of the UK’s naval blockade, it was no longer possible to source camel hair to produce drive belts, felt panels and gaskets. Someone came up with the macabre idea of having the Red Cross collect hair from women and girls and pass the results of their efforts to the relevant businesses. 

The First World War left almost ten million people dead. Some 20 million were wounded. Find out at the next stop how the story continued in the Weimar Republic.

Foto 1,2: © Rotkreuz Museum
Foto 3: © Dagmar Trüpschuch